Tower of irregularities

Teary-eyed residents watch rescue operations.  

Mumbai: Wednesday’s fire at Crystal Tower has exposed a number of irregularities in the building, including the fact that it does not have an occupation certificate. The Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) had even undertaken an internal demolition in the building in the past, and had launched prosecution against the builder and residents for unauthorised occupation. The matter is sub-judice. Some occupants have even challenged this in the Bombay High Court.

The tower, a new avatar of a three-storey cessed building, was constructed in 2012 by developer Ismail Haji Essa. The cessed building had been declared dangerous and many tenants had vacated it in 2005. In 2006, portions of it fell and the landlord decided to demolish it. Meanwhile, the original tenants had moved out but claim the landlord, one Supariwala, never paid them any rent. They had to pay rent from their pockets for five to six years until the swanky tower was constructed in 2012.

The new tower has 58 flats across 16 floors. The builder had received a Commencement Certificate and preliminary fire no-objection certificate based on the plans he submitted to the BMC.

However, after the building was constructed, the BMC noticed several irregularities and an Occupation Certificate was withheld. Among the irregularities are no NOC from BMC Estate Department, Storm Water Drain Department, the PWD, MHADA or the Fire Brigade. Besides, residents claim the developer had assessment dues as well.

Despite not having an OC, the original tenants as well as new home buyers moved into the building.

In 2016, BMC’s Building Proposal department issued them a notice under section 353(a) of the MMC Act. The notice was served to Essa, architect Anish Chouhan and all occupants for unauthorised occupation. The notice asked them to vacate the building in seven days. When they failed to do so, prosecution was launched against them in 41st Metropolitan Court and the matter is sub-judice. Some occupants had challenged the BMC notice in the Bombay HC. Meanwhile, BMC noticed a flat constructed on the compulsory refuge area on the 8th floor and demolished it. A wall and some alterations on the ground floor were also demolished.

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Printable version | May 12, 2021 1:55:20 PM |

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